Rick O'Connor
The Things Of The Kingdom And The Things Of The Name
The Nature Of Man


Man Mortal

By experience we know that our present existence will end in death, but it is from the Bible that we know what death really means. God says:

“The living know that they shall die, but the dead know not anything” (Ecclesiastes 9:5)

“In death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks?” (Psalm 6:4-5)

The only possible conclusion from these statements is that when a man dies his consciousness is extinguished.

This is in keeping with the way the Bible elsewhere speaks of death. For instance, Ecclesiastes 3:18-21, where Solomon shows death to be the same for man as for beasts, and wishes:

“...That they might see that they themselves are beasts.”

“For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath... All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.”

God gives this same warning in Psalm 49:

“Man being in honour abideth not: he is like the beasts that perish” (v12)

“Like sheep they are laid in the grave; death shall feed on them” (v14)

“He (the rich) shall go to the generation of his fathers; they shall never see light. Man that is in honour, and understandeth not, is like the beasts that perish.” (vv 19-20)

We must conclude from these Scriptures that man perishes when he dies - and, unless he understands God, he is extinguished forever by death. As we discovered in our previous discussion, even faithful disciples of Christ depend on Christ to resurrect them. Without resurrection they too would perish like the rest. (1 Corinthians 15:18)

The “Soul” Mortal

Is it not clear, then, that the “soul” of man is mortal NOT immortal? To understand this let us be clear on what the “soul” of man is.

When God created man at the beginning, he became a “living soul”, as God said:

“The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” (Genesis 2:7)

Reading this just as it is written, it says that whatever man is, was made from the dust of the ground - and it is man, the man made of dust, that is a “soul”. When life-giving breath was breathed into his nostrils, man, who had till then been a nonliving soul, became a living soul.

It is the body, made from the dust of the ground, that God is here calling a “soul”, and that is how the New Testament interprets it. In 1 Corinthians 15:44-45 the Apostle Paul writes of men who die:

“It is sown (into the grave) a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.”

Here God interprets the word “soul” to mean “natural body”. So it is clear that the Bible shows man’s soul to be his natural body and to be mortal.

These facts made understandable God’s sentence on Adam:

“In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” (Genesis 3:19)

So death is the opposite of life. As life is existence, consciousness, so death is a return to non-existence, unconsciousness.

You will find further proof for this in Job 34:14; Psalm 146:4; James 4:14.

But God wishes to rescue us from that fate. He gave Christ, his only begotten son that:

“Whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:15-16)

Immortality – A Hope and a Promise

Since we are mortal we depend on God to rescue us from death, and so He will, if we satisfy His conditions, for by Jesus Christ, God:

“Hath abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” (1 Timothy 1:10)

Not having immortality otherwise, we can gain title to it only by believing the Gospel. (see Mark 16:15-16)

Immortality is held out to us as a promise, not a present possession; for instance:

“This is the promise that He hath promised us, even eternal life.” (1 John 2:25)

To us at present it is not our present experience, but a blessing we hope for:

“...We should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:7; see also 1:2)

When we receive eternal life (which we will if we believe and obey the gospel) it will be God’s gift to us then. (Rom 6:23)

God will bestow eternal life only on those who do believe and obey the gospel. Rom 2:6-10 makes this clear.

When will God bestow on us His gift of immortality?

When Christ returns (Colossians 3:3-4; Philippians 3:20-21).

The Real Hell – The Grave

Consistent Bible usage establishes the real meaning of the Hebrew OLD TESTAMENT word SHEOL.

Where context prevented the translators from following theological bias. they rendered SHEOL into English by its proper equivalent - “the grave”.

Where theological bias could gain an advantage the translators have rendered SHEOL by a different English word - “hell”.

Although “hell” properly means only a covered place (cf. ‘helmet’ = head covering), it has been shrouded with theological overtones, so “hell” now suggests an infernal region of flame ruled by ‘the devil’ in which wicked souls are perpetually tormented.

The Lake of Fire

When Sodom and Gomorrah were steeped in lust and wickedness, God rained on them the destruction of brimstone and fire, then buried them under the waters of the Dead Sea - Genesis 19:24

This holocaust burnt apparently for some days and was visible from the Judaean hills - Genesis 19:28, and was not extinguished when the cities were reduced to ashes - 2 Peter 2:6.

God interprets this brief burning and total destruction as “suffering the vengeance of eternal fire” - Jude 7. Hence: God is using “eternal” to describe the everlasting effect (permanent destruction), not the everlasting duration, of the fire.

The New Testament uses the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah in the fire and the Dead Sea as the basis of the symbol - “the lake of fire burning with brimstone” - which represents Europe in the process of being subdued by Christ in the war of Armageddon - Revelation 19:20.

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